Tourism pushes for peace

Greek tourist organizations plan to appeal to the UN and EU governments to give peace a chance even as the US hardened its stand against Iraq. «Representatives from tourist bodies have agreed to send a message to the UN and EU governments, requesting them to make every effort to avert a war so that a peaceful solution can be found based on the decisions of the Security Council and Iraq’s acceptance of its conclusions,» Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday after chairing a meeting of the National Tourism Council. He said the government plans to take steps to reinforce the tourism industry in the event war breaks out, with the issue expected to be brought up on EU level as well. The measures are expected to be financial breaks and greater leeway in the payment of certain charges. Details will be worked out shortly. The Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) in the meantime said a slew of uncertainties, ranging from a war in Iraq to the slowing US economy to the lack of business and consumer confidence, have already made their impact felt on the local tourism industry. Barely two months into the year, foreign tour operators were already pressuring local tourist companies to trim prices, it said. It said the tourism industry, however, could be on track for a «relatively good year» this year on condition that US-led military action against Iraq is short term. The 2004 Olympic Games are expected to boost total tourist arrivals to Greece to about 15 million. Arrivals are projected to slow down in the following year while repeat visits by tourists should boost the market in the few years thereafter. Tourist arrivals last year were down by one percentage point according to official data. Tourist organizations said the drop was sharper, at about 5 percent.